Engagement in education: The panacea for juvenile recidivism?

Cassandra Thoars*, University of Tasmania (Hobart)

 *corresponding author: cthoars@utas.edu.au


A major challenge facing Australian society is the rate of recidivism among youth offenders. What role does education play in its reduction?  Engagement in Education: the panacea for juvenile recidivism? is a pilot project which seeks to explore how a cross-section of key stakeholders’ perceive the relationship between youth offenders’ recidivism and their engagement in education. While research has identified education as a significant variable that impacts on rates of youth crime, with an inverse relationship between educational attainment and criminal behaviour, there is limited research concerning the pragmatic features of youth offenders’ engagement in education as a contributor to attainment, and hence, transitively, its relationship to recidivism. This project enables the exploration of key concepts in educational engagement as perceived by those who work most closely with youth offenders, whose perspectives were analysed using the Archambault, Janosz, Fallu & Pagani (2009) student engagement framework as a theoretical lens through which to understand challenges associated with engaging young offenders in educational experiences. Using this framework will support the development of tools and programs that are sensitive to the cognitive, affective and behavioural engagement challenges experienced by at-risk students and students within correctional education, and, as such, will inform the development of larger studies as well as future policy and curriculum considerations.